Page:Crainquebille, Putois, Riquet and other profitable tales, 1915.djvu/207

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193
JEAN MARTEAU

the sky the stars, huge and rayless, were like discs of pale gold.

I knew the cause of this appearance and I explained it to Vernaux: "It is an optical phenomenon," I said, "our eyes are out of focus."

And with infinite care and minuteness I engaged in a demonstration which chiefly turned upon the exact correspondence between the human eye and the astronomical telescope. While I was reasoning thus, Vernaux found on the ground some leaden-coloured grass, an enormous black hat, boat shaped, with a brim, a band of gold braid and a diamond buckle. Putting it on his head, he said: "It is the lord mayor's hat." "Obviously," I replied, and I resumed my demonstration. So arduous was it that the perspiration dropped from my forehead. I was always losing the thread and beginning again vaguely with the phrase: "The great saurians who swam in the tepid waters of the primitive ocean had eyes constructed like a telescope. …"

I continued until I perceived that Vernaux had disappeared. It was not long before I found him again in a hollow. He was on a spit, roasting over a brushwood fire. Indians with their hair tied on the tops of their heads were basting him with a long-handled spoon and were turning the spit. In